For our last day in Paris, which also happened to be my 32nd birthday, I managed to convince the hubby to celebrate with me at Le Procope in the 6th arrondissement near the Saint Germain area. Established in 1686, it is said to be the oldest restaurant in Paris (and the oldest cafe in the world) in continuous operation which is precisely why I wanted to eat there. After all, it’s not everyday you get to eat in the same restaurant where Voltaire, Hugo and Rousseau used to dine in their heyday.
I honestly don’t remember how we got there though. Hubby and I were just walking aimlessly about in Paris (the city has that ability to just make you wander around – every corner is beautiful so it’s not like you lose anything by doing nothing) with the goal of eventually finding our way to this restaurant (he didn’t want to, so I purposely got lost this side of the city). So the only information I can give you as to direction is to go to the Latin Quarter, and look for the street where the Comedie Francaise was located.
Oh, as a bonus for making this trip – the street is lined with quaint shops selling everything from costume jewelry to tailored suits.
|It looks like your typical French cafe from across the street.|
Outside, the place is not that remarkable, just your typical French cafe. They didn’t even have tables for al fresco dining. I would have missed it if not for the waving flags. But inside? What can I say? The place is just old-world gorgeous. Its walls are a rich mixture of reds, browns, and gold, while the ceiling is fully decked in chandeliers reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries. And for history lovers (ie, me), there are crumbling old books right by the entrance which you can gawk at, a testament to its long and varied history as a meeting place for the intellectuals from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
The place is so hauntingly beautiful they are actually open to tourists just wanting to visit the place during off-peak hours. We did come in around 3PM that day but we were also famished, so we decided to not just look around but also have late lunch there. Normally, reservations are needed but I guess my bulging baby bump again paved the way to two fine seats in one of their parlours.
Heck, even the comfort rooms were not spared – this is the first and only place I’ve been too where the toilet bowl covers are freaking gold!
|Just look at that gleaming gold toilet seat and cover!|
|I don’t normally take photos in comfort rooms but I had to make an exception for this one.|
Dishes are quite expensive (think hotel prices in Manila) but the trick is to NOT convert the euros to pesos in your mind (now I know why I used up all my pocket money without realizing it, hahaha!) – our set meal set us back around forty euros each.
Now, on to our meal. I got the duck breast with wedge potatoes which I found really good. The meat was so soft, it was falling from the bone as I sliced my way through it and the sauce complemented the duck meat perfectly (I forgot if it was tomato based or something – all I know is that it was very rich). I usually find duck tricky because it has a tendency to make me a bit nauseous but I finished this dish to the last morsel. I even used the leftover sauce as a dip for my French bread.
The hubby got himself braised beef… which he didn’t particularly liked. I didn’t get to taste much of it and while he did say it was better than his 20-euro steak from two nights ago, it still paled in comparison to the other steaks we’ve tried. He said it was quite hard and stringy. But again, the sauce was good and at least he got a glass of red wine to go with it (he wouldn’t let me have just a sip even just to celebrate my birthday so I ended up with just coffee!).
For dessert, we got the strawberry sorbet and cheese. By this time though, we were both full but they both looked so yummy that we still ended up finishing them off in one go. 😀
Our food binging didn’t end at lunch though. As I said, it was our last full day in Paris (we were leaving for Belgium early the next day) and we haven’t had a single escargot yet so again, I dragged hubby to the first decent traditional French restaurant we could find after our Seine river cruise. I would have loved to go back to Le Procope but we forgot to make dinner reservations; plus, I wanted to try some other restaurant.
Our cruise ended around 8PM (although you couldn’t tell – and the sun was still shining brightly since it was summer), and since we would be taking the Metro back to our hotel, we decided to eat around the Saint Michel area.
|Hubby has high-blood and gout so he only ate a piece and I got the rest of this plate of escargot with pesto. Yummy.|
|Cheese something for the hubby. Pasta?|
|I ordered lamb chops with salad and fries.|
My bad though. I was recovering from a slight fever the day before (in fact, our day started late – we got out of the hotel at 2PM coz I wasn’t feeling up to it) that I totally forgot to jot down the name of this place. In any case, the fare wasn’t something to write home about. Ambience was okay, price was okay (for reference: our dinner cost us about 25 euros each), service kind of so-so (I had to ask the servers several times to serve our food and give us water), and the food not so special. So, I guess you can take this one out of your list of restos to try in Paris.
Still, I can say my birthday was nothing short of magical. 🙂 I think after 30 years of depriving myself of a proper birthday celebration, I am finally making up for it. Each year just keeps getting better. I wonder where my next birthday will find me.